Here is the latest news on avian influenza from the state veterinarian. They are not concerned about it in our state at this time.
-Avian Influenza: Show Go or Show No?
Dr. Amber Itle, Washington State Veterinarian
This week, I’ve gotten several inquiries about highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) and whether poultry shows should be cancelled. So far, we have been fortunate not to have any indication of HPAI in the Pacific Flyway (shown in red below) at this time. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and APHIS Wildlife Services continue to pursue active surveillance of wild waterfowl and follow up on all mortality events. We anticipate that a detection in waterfowl would be an early indicator that the disease is a threat since waterfowl are responsible for spreading the virus through fecal droppings that contaminate waterways and the environment. WSDA is actively doing avian influenza surveillance, and pursuing investigations on all reports of sick or dead domestic poultry including commercial and backyard flocks. So far, there have been no detections as a result of that active work by both WDFW and WSDA.
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We know that currently there are outbreaks of HPAI on 180 premises in 26 states resulting in over 26 million chickens/turkeys that were required to be depopulated. At this time, the farthest west HPAI has made it is Montana, and experts believe that these are still introductions associated with the Central flyway (shown in green on the map). It is thought that the HPAI in the Central, Atlantic and Mississippi flyways is highly contagious, can infect a larger variety of wild birds and is persisting in the environment longer due to cold environmental conditions (1-2 months) increasing viral loads. Historically, HPAI impacted dabbling ducks most commonly, who carry and spread the virus but don’t get sick. Interestingly, this outbreak has impacted 40 different kinds of wild birds, causing mortality events in some, especially geese. This is very different than the HPAI outbreak we experienced in 2014/15.
Although nothing is zero risk, it appears that at this time geographically, it is still reasonable to hold poultry shows at fairs in Washington. However, contingency planning should be established in case we do detect the virus closer to home. At this time, it is up to the individual fair board to determine whether to cancel based on risk factors. If we do get a detection of HPAI in WA, WSDA will restrict exhibitions and commingling of birds.
Fairs should remain vigilant and employ enhanced biosecurity, including:
1. Encourage frequent hand washing.
2. Restrict the public from touching exhibition birds.
3. House waterfowl and gallinaceous birds separately (in separate areas or barns if possible).
4. Show poultry (chickens, turkey) before, or in a separate barn than waterfowl (geese, ducks).
5. Consider staggering show times or days for poultry and waterfowl.
6. Clean and disinfect frequently.
7. Discourage out-of-state poultry from showing, especially those outside of the Pacific Flyway.
8. Do not share equipment.
9. Report and remove any sick bird immediately.
10. Isolate all exhibition birds away from the home flock for 30 days upon return from the fair.
WDFW feels that migration is on track for most snow geese and other migrating waterfowl to leave WA by the end of the month. Who knows what the Fall with bring with the next migration after commingling of wild birds in Alaska. APHIS Wildlife Services will be doing increased surveillance this year starting in Alaska in July, following the birds south and will be targeting the I-90 corridor by Labor Day. They are hoping to get 32,000 samples.
WSDA is hosting an open house on Tuesday, April 12, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. to share information about its plans to eradicate the invasive Japanese beetle (Popillia japonica). The open house will be held at the Grandview Library.